SHERBORNES TERMS AND CONDITIONS OF BUSINESS
If you instruct us to act for you, and we accept those instructions, we will issue you with our Terms and Conditions of Business. These will be updated from time to time. Our Terms and Conditions of Business relating to legal work are set out below.
- OUR AIM
Our aim is to complete the work which you have asked us to do speedily and efficiently. We need to work together to do this and from time to time we will need your help on providing us with documents and information. You agree to provide us with documents and information when we ask for them and let us know if there is any change in your circumstances which we may need to take into account, promptly.
We will ensure that you know the name of the Director responsible for your case and the name and status of all other persons who you are likely to be dealing with. We will ensure that you are fully informed as to the issues raised in, and the progress of, the work we are undertaking for you at all times.
If you feel that the level of the service provided falls below the criteria outlined above you should first raise your concern with the person responsible for your case, and in the event that you have any continuing concern you should approach the person whom you have been notified is the Client Care Director for your particular matter.
- OUR RESPONSIBILITIES
- Always act in your best interests, subject to our duty to the Court and under statute; and in the case of property transactions, our duty to any lender;
- Explain to you the risks and benefits of taking legal action and of any alternatives;
- Give you our best advice;
- Give you the best information possible about the likely costs of the action which you are proposing to take, or the work you are asking us to undertake.
- YOUR RESPONSIBILITIES
- Give us instructions that allow us to do our work properly;
- Provide prompt and realistic instructions;
- Provide us with all relevant information relating to the work which we are undertaking;
- Not ask us to work in an improper or unreasonable way;
- Not deliberately mislead us;
- Cooperate with us.
- THIS DOCUMENT
The purpose of this document is to confirm the arrangements between us which we will usually have discussed and we confirm that we are working on the basis of this document as soon as we accept instructions from you. We ask you to sign and return to us a copy of this document to confirm this for our records.
- CONFIDENTIALITY AND PRIVILEGE
Generally speaking the information and documentation which you provide to us is confidential and subject to legal professional privilege. However in some circumstances we are obliged to pass on information which we receive, for example to the Authorities who deal with money laundering and the Proceeds of Crime Act. You should also note that some methods of communication are not secure, for example mobile telephones and emails. Unless you let us know otherwise, we shall assume that you are content for communications to be made by such means even though they are not totally secure.
If there is some particular document or some particular piece of information which you require us specifically not to disclose to some third party then please make that clear when you supply it to us (though please bear in mind our obligations set out above which may override any requirement that you impose).
From time to time we may be called upon to demonstrate our maintenance of certain professional standards as set by appropriate authorities. Unless you notify us to the contrary we will assume that we have your authority to produce your file for that purpose only as an exception to our duty of confidentiality.
The return of these conditions signed by you will constitute your consent to the giving of such information, unless you advise us to the contrary.
- MONEY LAUNDERING LEGISLATION AND THE PROCEEDS OF CRIME ACT
Under this legislation we have a duty to notify certain authorities of any transaction which in our opinion may be a breach of the relevant legislation and Regulations made under it. Accordingly, we have no liability to clients if we feel under a duty to make such a notification. Sometimes the law prohibits us from informing you that a notification has been made
- IDENTITY VERIFICATION
Pursuant to the Money Laundering Regulations we are required to verify your identity. We will validate personal information provided by you using third party databases in order to conduct anti-money laundering checks. By accepting these terms and conditions you consent to such checks being made. Personal information that you provide may be disclosed to a credit reference agency, which may keep a record of that information. This is done only to verify your identity. Your credit rating will be unaffected.
- DATA PROTECTION ACT 1998 AND DATA PROTECTION POLICY
In acting for you, we shall compile and hold personal data relating to you. This may include sensitive personal data. This will be both in electronic form and as part of a paper filing system. Data of this sort are covered by the Data Protection Act 1998. If you consent to the collection of such personal data you can be assured we will comply fully with the Act. In general, such data are retained after the conclusion of your case because this is thought to be in your best interests. Our obligations under the Act are in addition to our duty of confidentiality.
We sometimes use this data to enable us to identify clients who may wish to be made aware of any legal developments which might affect them. If you do not wish to receive such material in the future please put a cross in the box below.
- THIRD PARTIES
These Terms and Conditions only apply between you and Sherbornes. At no time do they give any benefit or rights to any third party, individual or organisation.
- STORAGE OF DOCUMENTS
At the end of your matter we will store your file of papers or other documents that you have left with us for such period as we think is appropriate after which time the file will be routinely destroyed. If you would prefer your documents not to be destroyed you should notify us in writing at which stage your records will be forwarded to you for safe custody.
We do not normally make a charge for retrieving stored papers in response to continuing or new instructions to act for you. However we reserve the right to make a charge for retrieving stored papers in relation to matters which have been concluded based on the time we spend on reading papers, writing letters or other work necessary to comply with your additional instructions.
We also reserve the right to make a charge to cover the cost of administration and postage if you ask us to send your file of papers or other documents that you have left with us to you or to another firm of solicitors by post.
- INITIAL INTERVIEWS
We do not normally offer a free initial interview service but may do so in exceptional circumstances. This will only apply though if we have confirmed this to you.
We retain the discretion to charge you for any free interview which we may provide if at the end of the case your opponent is liable to pay but would only have to reimburse you for the interview if there was a charge for it.
- LIMITATION ON LIABILITY
We carry professional indemnity insurance giving cover of three million pounds for any one claim for professional negligence. Sherbornes do not accept liability for any loss or damage in excess of the level of our insurance cover, unless we have agreed a special arrangement with you at the outset of your matter. From time to time the level of our indemnity cover is reviewed and we can tell you the current level if requested; that figure will not be less than fifteen million pounds.
A lien is our right to keep all papers, documents, money or other property held on your behalf until all money due to us is paid. We have that right in accordance with this agreement. A lien may be applied after this agreement ends.
- COSTS AND FEES
The way we calculate our costs and fees will be set out in the initial letter which we send you and usually will be discussed at our initial interview with you. There may occasionally be exceptions to this, when work has to be carried out urgently, or when you are already familiar with our methods of charging because of other work which we have done for you or people associated with you.
You should always consider whether your legal costs and expenses might be covered by a policy of legal expenses insurance cover and if it is or it might be then you should let us know immediately. However even if our costs and expenses are to be paid from another source e.g. a legal expenses insurer or some other party involved in the matter that we are dealing with for you, as our contract is with you, we reserve the right at our discretion to require you to pay our costs in accordance with these Terms and Conditions. (A legal expenses insurer indemnifies you not us. It is important that you abide by the terms of any such insurance policy otherwise you may not be covered by it).
In some cases we may be able to agree a fixed price with you, in which case we will make this clear in our letter to you.
Normal Charge Basis
In most matters we will not be able to agree a fixed price because we do not know precisely what work is going to be involved. We will always try to give you the best information about the likely cost at the beginning of the matter and at intervals while it proceeds. However you should be aware that the information that we give you is likely only to be our best guidance and circumstances can change.
Our fees are calculated on the basis of six minute units. Short outgoing letters and routine phone calls are charged as a single unit and all other work is timed. The charge per unit to be applied will be set out in the letter which we will send you. In addition you will be responsible for VAT and out of pocket expenses (which we call disbursements).
In all matters we will bill on a monthly basis unless agreed otherwise this enables you to budget and assists our cashflow. Bills should be settled within fourteen days and interest may be charged on overdue bills at the rate from time to time fixed by the Court. We reserve the right to cease acting should interim bills not be paid within thirty days or money not paid to us when reasonably requested for disbursements and/or on account of our costs.
Our charging rates are subject to periodic variation and we will notify you in advance of any change.
The rates applied may also be adjusted to reflect the level of responsibility which we have accepted, the exceptional value of our work to you, working unsociable hours or unusual skill or unusual speed applied to your matter.
In some types of matter the charge may include an additional element reflecting the value of the property or assets involved.
Payments On Account
Before we incur disbursements we shall ask you for funds to meet them. We may also ask you for money on account either at the commencement of your case or at some other time. This will be held generally on account of fees disbursements and VAT and will be applied where we consider appropriate in discharge or reduction of any liability for any disbursement made or to be made, or any subsequent invoice rendered.
You may receive periodic requests for specific payments in respect of disbursements to be made and for general payments on account in respect of any liability which we have to pay ourselves. Examples of the former are court fees or search fees, examples of the latter are counsels fees (barristers fees), experts fees and witness expenses.
VAT will be charged in addition at the prevailing rate at the time of the provision of our services.
Out Of Pocket Expenses
We call out of pocket expenses disbursements. These are payments which we need to make on your behalf and these are not included in our estimates or rates.
By agreeing to these Terms and Conditions you have given us authority to incur and pay reasonable expenses in order to deal properly with your matter including search fees, for the instruction of experts, barristers fees, travelling expenses at 45 pence per mile and the cost of any other services reasonably required. Wherever possible we will endeavour to inform you of such payments in advance.
We also reserve the right to make a separate charge for exceptional office expenditure such as exceptional postage or telephone charges, courier services, copying and sending or receiving faxes.
Some times it is necessary for us to send money by Telegraphic Transfer. You may also ask us to send you money by the same method.
We should point out that Telegraphic Transfer fees are made up of two elements. Part of these covers fees which we pay to other people for example the Bank. The rest is a sum which we keep because we have invested in computer hardware and software to enable us to deal with any transfers.
Costs Of Other Parties
Sometimes you may be required to pay the costs of another person or other body involved in your matter. These are payable in addition to our own costs and expenses. You are always personally liable to pay those. We do not pay those on your behalf.
If we are holding any money or property on your behalf, then we can deduct money that is due to us, or retain that property, until payment is made.
Our charges and expenses are payable whether or not the matter is successfully concluded or the transaction is completed. If any matter or transaction is not concluded we shall be entitled at our discretion to charge for the work done on our normal charging basis as set out in this agreement. This applies even where a fixed rate has been agreed for the whole matter.
Payment of our charges should be made within fourteen days of delivery of our invoice. Interest will be charged on overdue invoices at the rate allowed by the Court from time to time.
Costs Recovered From Another Party
If we recover costs from some other party for fees and expenses incurred, we are entitled to retain those costs and fees on account of money due to us under this agreement.
It is rare for any sums recovered to be sufficient to reimburse you in full. We reserve the right to charge you the difference between our total costs and disbursements and the sum recovered from the other party.
By agreeing to these Terms and Conditions you accept that you are liable to pay our charges and expenses at the rates agreed with you and not as limited by Section 74 (3) of the Solicitors Act 1974 and not by reference to any of the principles concerning fees and expenses made out on the Civil Procedure Rules 1998.
We usually need to hold at least one preliminary meeting before we can assess whether a case is suitable for one of these agreements and we may have to carry out other work first. We will agree with you separately about payment for that work.
If we hold money on your behalf in our bank account interest will be due to you in accordance with the Solicitors Accounts Rules. Subject to certain minimum amounts and periods of time, notional interest is payable at the same rate as you would receive from a Bank. The calculation we apply is that provided by the Rules or (if lower) the rate available to us for the particular sum held, less, in respect of each amount of interest as and when accrued, the sum of £20 to take in to account the administrative costs of calculation and payment.
We may apply interest towards settlement of any invoice delivered to you or hold it on account of work in progress.
Unless otherwise agreed, these Terms of Business apply to any future instructions you give us with such variations as may reasonably be appropriate to any other instructions which you give to us.
Your continuing instructions in this matter will amount to your acceptance of these Terms and Conditions of Business. We will send you a copy of our terms and a duplicate and will ask you to sign, date and return the duplicate copy. We can then be confident that you understand the basis on which we will act for you. If you do not sign and return the duplicate copy immediately we may not be able to commence or continue working for you.
If more than one person signs these Terms of Business then you are each agreeing to be bound by them and to be jointly and severally responsible for our costs and fees.
If you are signing on behalf of some other person you are agreeing that you are authorised to do so on their behalf.
If you are signing on behalf a company you are agreeing that the company has resolved that you may do so and that you may commit the company to these Terms of Business.